This question becomes more and more important as the city moves forward with plans to conduct a housing Study, as was approved in the City Council meeting on March 17.
The Mayor made a point to say that the study was NOT an affordable housing study. If you’re interested in the outcomes and takeaways of this study, we hope you will join us today to follow along.
You can learn a lot about not only who someone is, but who a city is, by understanding what they prioritize. Which begs the question, where do Sandy Springs’ priorities lie? What kind of city are we?
Sandy Springs’ Priorities
Well, for starters, we currently have more protections in place for trees than we do for our city’s working families who are in desperate need of more affordable housing.
Yes, you heard that right.
The City of Sandy Springs employs full-time arborists, who enforce the Tree Conservation Ordinance and can provide residents with guidance on tree removal requirements in the City of Sandy Springs. You can read more about the city’s tree Conservation efforts in the City’s Development Code, as well as in the Trees and Arboriculture section of the city’s website.
We have been recognized as one of the Tree Cities of the World. To achieve this recognition, the City of Sandy Springs was required to meet the five core standards: establish responsibility, set the rules, know what you have, allocate the resources and celebrate achievements.
But, What About Our Residents?
Look at the standards above for the Tree Cities of the World. What if we had one staff person looking after affordable housing with the same standards, and they could:
- Establish responsibility to make sure we have housing for all income levels
- Set the rules about affordable housing
- How much we need
- When it can be demolished and when it can’t
- How families will be treated when displacement occurs
- Know how much we have (affordable housing) and how much we need
- Allocate the resources (to accomplish the rules and objectives)
- Celebrate the achievements
Sandy Springs doesn’t have ANY city ordinances to protect our residents who rent; to monitor the removal of apartments, to require displacement with dignity when demolition is necessary; or to shelter seniors who will be priced out by rising taxes as property values inevitably rise.
Let us be clear — trees are nice and they offer many benefits, but, do we truly value trees more than we value the well-being and livelihood of our workers?
How This Could Be Addressed
Sandy Springs should have a dedicated city staff that monitors and ensures housing affordability.
We are a city of 100,000 residents, with 59% of our housing units classified as for rental. It’s clear that, as a city, redevelopment is on the top of everyone’s mind.
Knowing that, wouldn’t it make sense for Sandy Springs to hire a professional staff person, who is solely focused on making sure that our workforce and seniors have stable and reliable housing for today and for the future?
We all thrive when Sandy Springs is not only beautiful, but, potentially even moreso, a healthy and stable place to live. With so many of our friends and neighbors, both renters and homeowners, leaving because they can no longer afford to live here, our community becomes more transient and we are all in jeopardy of losing the beautiful place that we call home.
Again, let us be clear. The tree ordinances are good, as they protect our tree canopy and provide a better quality of life for us all.
However, we believe that we can, and should, do the same thing for our neighbors who teach our children, care for our most vulnerable, and keep us safe each and every day.
We can be one of the Tree Cities of the World, AND one of the most resident-friendly cities of the world.